Issue - meetings

West Midlands Ambulance Service

Meeting: 17/11/2021 - Adult Social Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Item 5)

West Midlands Ambulance Service

An update which will include a focus on the review of community ambulance stations. This item was raised at Council on 28 September and all members of Council have been invited to submit questions and lines of enquiry which have been forwarded to the Ambulance Service.

Additional documents:


The Chair welcomed Mark Docherty, Director of Clinical Commissioning and Murray McGregor, Communications Director from West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS).


WMAS had been asked to address members on its review of community ambulance stations. This item had been raised at Council on 28 September and all members of Council were invited to submit questions and lines of enquiry. These were forwarded to the Ambulance Service, with initial written responses provided and circulated to members.


Murray Macgregor spoke initially on the following areas:


  • An acknowledgement that WMAS performance in Warwickshire was not good enough, evidenced by the performance data provided to members in the circulated pack. This was disappointing and reflected data from across the country.
  • A recent report highlighted cases of harm due to hospital handover delays. The hospitals serving the Coventry and Warwickshire area were not the worst offenders, but there was room for improvement.
  • From data there were some 28,500 lost hours of service across the region due to hospital handover delays, impacting severely on the ability to respond to further patients. He spoke of the impact for patients, the risk of harm and for staff, finishing late, affecting their welfare and when they could commence their next shift.
  • This was one of the reasons for the decisions around closure of community ambulance stations.
  • Previously, response targets were based on the time taken to get to the patient. A detailed review was undertaken in 2017-18 to look at improvements. Using the example of a stroke case, it was not about when the paramedic reached the patient, but when that patient received the specialist treatment in hospital which determined their likelihood of survival and a good outcome.
  • Community ambulance stations provided an inefficient system. An outline was provided of the way the hub model operated and staff had an ambulance checked, equipped and ready to use immediately for their full shift. Compared to this, the community ambulance station model had a number of inefficiencies which were explained and equated to 2½ to 3 hours per site per day. It was estimated that the increased efficiency from this proposal would enable response to 5000-6000 extra calls per year.
  • There was concern that this change would remove the ambulance cover from Stratford and Rugby. This was not the case and an outline was provided of the operating model. In many cases, patients were treated at the scene and did not need transport to hospital. This meant the ambulance was available in that locality for the next patient. Data showed that ambulances based at a community ambulance stations only attended 5% of cases in their immediate area. 


Mark Docherty outlined his background working in the NHS and spoke on  the following areas:


  • His involvement in a document ‘zero tolerance’ raising concerns some nine years ago about the implications of delayed hospital handovers for ambulance services.
  • Data was provided and nearly 30k hours were lost due to hospital delays, the equivalent of taking 83 ambulances out of service.
  • Across the region WMAS worked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5